Pre-school celebrates as new £280,000 centre finally opens

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A PRE-SCHOOL is celebrating after opening its new state-of-the-art building.

St Clare’s Pre-School, in Strouden Court, Warren Park, Havant, spent years saving in the hope of expanding.

St Clare's Pre-School in Strouden Court, Warren Park, Havant has opened a new building after receiving funding from Hampshire County Council

St Clare's Pre-School in Strouden Court, Warren Park, Havant has opened a new building after receiving funding from Hampshire County Council

They were delighted when their dreams came true, thanks to the help of Portsmouth City Council and a grant from Hampshire County Council.

Now the pre-school, which takes children from two years old, is fully subscribed and its 88 children are enjoying using the new facility.

Manager Gail Young-Evans said: ‘We always wanted to build our own pre-school and achieve something of our own. We approached Portsmouth City Council in 2014 and asked them if they could help us find somewhere. We really wanted to stay in Warren Park, so it went from there.’

The pre-school, which employs 23 people and is rated outstanding by OFSTED, originally started as a playgroup in a nearby church hall in 1968.

It moved to a former shopping parade in 2014, but quickly outgrew the premises after the government introduced free 30 hour childcare for three years olds.

Portsmouth City Council owns pockets of land in Havant, acquired after the Second World War, including a piece of land at the back of the shopping parade, which it agreed to let the pre-school build on.

The pre-school, which is a not-for-profit organisation that prides itself on keeping its costs affordable, already had some savings for the project but not enough, so they were delighted when Hampshire County Council agreed to grant them £240,000 towards the £280,000 build cost.

The new building, dubbed the cabin due to its wooden look, took just four months to build and opened in January.

Nicky Baker, who manages the cabin which looks after 38 of the children, said: ‘The new building is lovely. It’s nice to have air-conditioning and it is A-rated for energy efficiency. Our families absolutely love it.’

The pre-school is holding an open day on Saturday, July 7, from 9.30am until 12.30pm.

Gail, who has worked at the pre-school for 16 years, said: ‘We are encouraging people who are interested, even if they just want to have a little nose, to come along to our open day and have a look.’

A spokesman for Portsmouth City Council said: ‘We are delighted that such an important community service has benefited from our support.’